3/13/17

Making Health a Priority: Enjoying the season you're in?

By Kiley Owen, PA-C

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. -Albert Camus

"Done" with Winter?

mother, father and young son outside enjoying winterAre you "done" with this whole winter thing? Ready to move on to brighter days and greener pastures? 

I'll be honest. This is how I've felt lately. 

I live in central Illinois. (It looks kinda like the picture above... only flat... with fewer trees... a bit less snow... and wind gusts.... Otherwise they're practically identical. :)

Weather patterns in central Illinois are about as smooth as an EKG strip (which is a zigzag, by the way). Earlier in the week the weather got into the 50s. You could smell spring in the air—just enough to make you want more. And once you were inflicted with that spring fever... Bam! Bitter cold, snow, strong winds, dangerous road conditions... the whole nine yards.

Why, weather?  Why???

As I left work a couple nights ago, shivering, scraping ice and snow off my car, praying not to wreck on the way home, I thought, I'm ready for this to be over.

Ready for this to be over. What a sad thought. Did I just catch myself wishing a season of my life away?

What makes me think the next season will be so much better? Doesn't every season have its good and bad?

A Better Attitude

I decided I needed to change my attitude and give poor winter a break.

Now, I won't tell you that I completely changed my outlook - that I now enjoy everything about winter. Nope, there are still things about winter I dislike, such as: shivering uncontrollably as I leave work, numb hands as I chip ice and snow from my car, and driving on icy/snowy roads.

However, the past couple nights I made a conscious effort to look for the good. And what I saw was amazing.

I took a few moments to breathe in the cool air. I took notice of the bright moon reflecting on the snow, casting a beautiful glow on everything. I appreciated how peaceful and quiet it was outside. I was thankful for my warm house, as well as my family inside it.  

I'm pretty sure that at some point in the coming months, when it's hot and humid outside, when I'm sweating and swatting at mosquitoes, this image of a peaceful winter night will look pretty darn good! Perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to wish it away.

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. -George Santayana

Positive Thinking & Your Health

As it turns out, intentionally changing your attitude (such as my attitude toward winter) can be good for your health! I found this Mayo Clinic article, which explains some of the health benefits of approaching unpleasantness in a positive and productive way. It also offers practical ways to become a more positive thinker. 

Some benefits of a positive attitude include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Enjoying the Season You're In

Every "season" of life holds its good and bad. We have a choice. We can spend our time fixating on the bad, or we can search for the good. We can get frustrated and be "done," or we can seek creative solutions to difficulties we face. We can enjoy the present, appreciating what lies in front of us, or we can wish it away.  

Where do you want to put your focus and energy?

Kiley Owen is a physician assistant, blogger and preventive health enthusiast. This post—along with helpful links to other resources—originally appeared on her blog, makinghealthapriority.com.